This had been saved in my drafts for five years with just the title. However, I still do remember the original motivator for this piece.
I’m not going to go into the details, as I probably would get them wrong anyhow, but there had been a climactic scene, in which we finally managed to foil the plans of the Big Bad. One of PCs died. As I’ve talked about previously (a long time ago), I think these situations should be respected. So, there was a hug between two of the surviving players before one of them sat down next to the corpse to do the version of the deathrites of the dead PC’s culture as close as he could.
So, how did the fourth player react to this?
Yes. Not sure, but that was probably a dead meme by that time (although Know Your Meme tells us that it actually had a second peak in 2019 for some reason, but according to the same site, it started in 2010, so it would be quite stale by 2018). Still, that’s not the point.
Sure, he might have felt left out at the point, as his character was elsewhere, so he was only witnessing this as the player, but in other ways, this only makes it worse. Maybe we should have set the scene differently and bring in the fourth player, because his character had as much of a right to mourn as the others.
Again, that’s not the point. The point is that this player felt it was correct at that moment in time to kill the seriousness of the situation. I have a feeling I know where this comes from. Marvel movies. They have a tendency to do exactly this. A heartfelt moment is about to happen, so someone says something quippy to stop that from happening. They might not say “no homo”, but they might as well, because that’s pretty much the message: Having feelings is not manly (and of course with homophobic overtones, including assuming gay people can’t be manly).
I bet there are times when I have been guilty of this, but I can’t remember any right now. It’s because when you do that to others, it’s not an emotional experience for you, so it doesn’t stay with you, while if someone does, for example, lose their beloved character or that character loses someone important to them, that’s something they will remember and making light of that is just bad.
Roleplaying in general is just another form of play (as the name implies) and play is all about being a fun way of readying oneself for different things we will encounter in life and as such, we shouldn’t fight against it. We should embrace these opportunities.
There’s a book called On Being Awesome by Nick Riggle. It’s not a very good book, because it’s about ten times as long as it needs to be, but the core message is definitely good and applicable for these kinds of situations. It’s all about being game and taking up these opportunities to do something awesome and these emotional moments can definitely be awesome.